Meeting Margaret Thatcher

It is a hot Saturday evening, so I thought I’d share an old memory, doing something a little different. I might try doing this again, if I feel like it has any value.

This is a true story.

Not ‘A True Story’ as in Fargo, where the fiction of the truth is used to make the fiction more heightened. This is an actual true story of events that actually occurred to me.

It was 1980. I think. It could have been 1981. I’m not so good with chronology.

Margaret Thatcher, Member of Parliament for Finchley (at the time – apparently, it has now been abolished as a constituency. Thank you, Wikipedia), has been Prime Minister for a year, the first (and so far only) woman to hold the position.

I am an ordinary (although utterly adorable) 10-year-old (11-year-old?) boy who plays football for his primary school team (we don’t lose a game we play all year – we even get in the local newspaper) and reads a lot. These two things don’t usually go together, which could explain a lot of my many discrepancies over what people expect of me. I was raised in Finchley, a town in the north London borough of Barnet. I also play football for a local church team – not the church I attend locally; I’m not quite sure how this happens. I remember scoring a goal for the under-11s (under-12s?) team on my birthday on our first game, a semi-final, played at the Welsh Harp.

Somehow, the chairman of the church football club has organised an exchange trip to play football against a local team (church team?) in Le Raincy, a suburb of Paris (and twinned with Finchley). Somehow, even more implausibly, people in the local Conservative party heard about this and thought it would be a good idea to have Mrs Thatcher meet some of us at the local party headquarters for tea – presumably to show that, even though she was Prime Minister, she hadn’t lost touch with the common person in her constituency.

A selection of players from each team and associated managers/helpers (including my father) are invited to tea. I am one of those select few. I don’t remember anything about the actual event itself – I was a child, for crying out loud – except Mrs Thatcher mocking me directly. The nation may have felt that she took the piss out of them on a national scale, but for me it was personal. When gathering for the photos, we did age-specific group shots first before having others participate. My father was asked to join the shot with the young players like myself. He wasn’t quick enough for my liking, so I called out, ‘Come on, Dad!’ To which Mrs Thatcher added, ‘Yes, come on, Dad.’ in a gently mocking tone.

Bitch.

Personally, I believe that a woman who can ridicule a 10-year-old child can do anything to an entire country without ever losing any sleep.

There is photographic evidence of this meeting. You don’t get to see it. Don’t ask. But this is a true story. It’s good for ‘Bizarre Facts People Don’t Know’ when you join a new office.

This has been a memory.

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